1950's and 1960's street scenes in Sibu........
Ais klim...ais klim....ais klim....beli beli ais klim....(Bahasa Malaysia)cried out an ice cream vendor cycling down the kampong road.
Bing kii lin bing kii lin ...bin kii lin....ke li meh ke li meh....(Foochow pinyin) cried out an old man selling ice cream from a single flask on foot at the same time ringing a hand held bell.
Scream! Scream! cried out an old man sitting on the st eps of the Lido cinema.....
All the flasks would have the Sibu made ice cream potong or bing tiaw or ice lollipops...I liked the ones with red beans in them or the lime flavoured ones....But money was tight.
Fifty years ago I was terrified of a few things. I was terrified of my Dad who was a man of few words. And the very little he said would frighten me.
One was " If you don't study hard...you will have to sell ice cream like the Ah Pek there...."
The other one was..." You like to eat all these "rubbish" outside there (like the ice potong) I will sell you to the icecream seller.....!"
I believe all of us were brought up in different ways and our parents taught us in whatever ways they could. Basically most of the Foochow parents "taught" by fear .
Actually my Dad taught us in many different ways too. Like using stories during dinner time. Or he would laugh whil reading and then turned to us to relate a good moral story. He bought us children's magazines which impacted us morally and socially. Some how these episodes are very vivid in my mind.
This ice cream episode was particularly memorable. And strangely for many decades I coveted an ice cream flask like this one. Although I never did get a chance to buy one as I would not have any use of it....since I would not have to sell ice cream any way...furthermore this kind of flask went out of fashion as technology improved by leaps and bound. Now if I can buy one even a second hand one would do...I will use it to teach my grand children one day....(if it can still work!!)
Last week my great Sibu journalist friends (Steve Ling and Yang Yi Fang) took me to Belawai using the new road from Sibu and the journey was less than 1 hour's drive. It was a memorable trip...and many things surprised me .
What was most precious to me? this photo...YES indeed 50 years later to prove my father wrong and not to disappoint him I have not become an ice cream seller and in fact I am very much like him...a published writer...a "some kind of photographer" and an academically inclined English teacher....and I love reading magazines like him. .
I believe strongly that he did impart to me a very severe lesson on what to be when I grew up. The ice cream flask was a symbolic catalyst in my mental and emotional development !!
(Actually I had wanted to be more than what I had become . Because he died early and I had to obtain a scholarship to study anything became a teacher. We had no other means other than a scholarship to help me obtain a good education. Thanks to all my teachers who helped me and my mother who knew that a good education was the only way to a better future. Most mothers in those days had tears in their daily bowls of rice.)